Image and emotion

How much emotion can an image convey??

Kermit's image for the cover of Life Magazine in 1990 on the death of Jim Henson. By Joe McNally.

Kermit’s image for the cover of Life Magazine in 1990 on the death of Jim Henson. By Joe McNally.

A bit of background on the story :-)

Sometimes a story just comes to you, that was the case last week. Early in the week, I was watching TV with my kids and there was a cartoon called Jim Henson’s Doozers, about the hard working creatures of Fraggle Rock. I’m reading “The Moment it Clicks” from Joe McNally and about half way through the week I’ve got to the picture he took for Life Magazine in 1990 on the death of Jim Henson (the one above). Finally, on the weekend, my wife set up a movie section for the kids with … guess what? … the “new” (2011) Muppets movie.

Jim Henson references three times in the same week. Reading a bit about him you find out that he basically created everything we’ve watched on puppets. Sesame Street (I learn how to count and read with them), Muppets, Fraggle Rock … all the puppets we know (at least my generation)!! A real genius of the art. Surely inspired and inspires kids all over the world (Sesame Street is still be produced in Germany, at least).

It’s amazing, as McNally comments in his book, how you can really feel the sadness of Kermit in the picture he took for Life Magazine. Two inanimate “creatures” (puppet and chair) and the correct lighting and you have the proper mood for the event. It really touches you when you look at it.

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Copyrighted cityscapes?

Most of all love to go around taking shots of cities when we travel. I personally love it. Big Ben, London Eye, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Frauenkirche, Olympiapark, and so on. A lot of people also heard the stories like the problems when shooting the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen, where the family of the sculptor enforces image copyright on the monument to a level where news papers don’t show it any more.

Blacked out London-Eye - Copyrighted cityscapes (The London Eye. Photograph from the Wikimedia Commons)

Blacked out London-Eye – Copyrighted cityscapes (The London Eye. Photograph from the Wikimedia Commons)

Of course copyright is this tricky thing. Respect mine, but I don’t care about yours. I still thing common sense should apply.

Well, common sense is about to be thrown off the window. The European Parliament will be voting next week an “equalization/unification” of the so called “freedom of panorama” for all EU countries (here the original news from Petapixel) that could basically destroy it.

If I understand well, you’ll need to seek authorization and probably pay to shoot “copyrighted buildings”. This can be taken to the level where you won’t be allowed to share on Facebook this smart-phone shot of you in London with the London-Eye in the back (apparently you’re already not allowed to do that with the Little Mermaid).

We need to speak up! We need to voice our concerns to our members of the European Parliament!

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New gear?

Ever since I bought the 60D I wanted to buy a battery grip. Not that I needed or need it, but I wanted. And I was always advised and agree that it has to be original, not a generic brand one.

Canon EOS 60D with Battery Grip

Canon EOS 60D with Battery Grip

The first problem was the price. It’s not like very expensive, but it’s money I could use for something else. Then you get to the time you can start looking for it on ebay. Apparently in Germany prices on ebay are not much better than on the stores. I have actually already found used gear on ebay that were more expensive than the same gear new bought at a reputable store!!

Once, I found it for sale on ebay at a reasonable price. When it arrived a vital part was missing. The grip comes with two magazines, where batteries go. One for 1-2 Canon batteries, the useful one. Another for 6 AA batteries, the not so useful one. The one for Canon batteries was missing. Not really useful to have your camera only running on AA batteries … so I had to send it back, and moreover, could not try it.

Years later, just recently, I found a used one on Amazon for a reasonable price. Checked if it was complete (actually the magazine for AA batteries was missing, not a problem) and bought it.

Then questions start popping. Did I really need it? What do I really get from it?

Main use is a failure for me. I don’t have a second battery. I don’t need a second battery. My 4.5 years old Canon battery lasts for days shooting on travel. It has never been the case when I ran out of battery shooting. Neither travelling, nor shooting “assignments”. Well, IF I see I’ll be days on the road and have no chance to recharge the battery I will consider getting an additional one. So far, no need for it.

Second, but also, main use is nice. The vertical grip. It’s not a MUST be, but it’s comfortable, after you get used to it, to shoot vertical and have full control over the camera. Shutter, focus, locks (AE and AF), aperture/shutter speed knob … without having to twist your hand. A much more stable and comfortable position, that allows you to go a bit lower in shutter speed.

Third, a “side effect” is the extension of the grip for shooting horizontal.

Right after I’ve received the battery grip, me and the family where leaving for vacations, a nice opportunity to make a field test.

Packed the whole thing and already noticed that the camera + grip get’s quite larger. Looks really cool (sorry, I have to go for the “looks” part ;-) ), a bit heavier, but it doesn’t fit my top loader bag anymore! Yep! It’s too large for a Top Loader 50. I would need a Top Loader 70, which is way more expensive that the 50 …

First two days of vacations was going to a fun-park, so I decided to travel light and don’t use the grip. Never run a marathon with new shoes!!!

For the following days we visited nice cities in the area and it was a great opportunity to test the grip.

Not fitting the Top Loader made the process clumsy. I had to keep the camera either on the R-Strap or inside the backpack (when eating or carrying kids).

But the best part and probably what made me keep it was the extension of the grip for the horizontal position. That makes the camera way, but way, more comfortable for someone with big hands as me. After a long day I would get my fingers sore of holding the camera, since I could not do it with all the fingers. Now I can properly hold the camera with 3 and control it with the other two fingers.

So far I’m happy with it, while I could do without it :-) Before buying a new Top Loader I’m giving a try on reorganizing my photography backpack and trying to use it really as photography backpack. Let’s see if it works.

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Using Snapseed 2.0 in the “field”

A short vacation time with my family and I had the chance to use Snapseed 2.0 for real!!

Coffee cup - Edited with Snapseed 2.0

Coffee cup – Edited with Snapseed 2.0

This will be very short, I was on vacations and not really “testing” Snapseed ;-).

We went to nice locations and a fun park! The idea was to share in almost real time a couple of smartphone shots on facebook to the grandparents, relatives and close friends. So no hardcore edits.

I’m not so much into the filters and stuff. My edits are simple. Crop, if necessary. Tune image, I’ll go through most of the sliders and get color and tone the way I want. Details, for some sharpening and structure. And a little Vignetting to finish the edit.

Is not much, if you think about it, but the difference is considerable most of the time, as you can see above.

BTW, Snapseed guys!!!!! I still miss the posibility to re-edit the file after I closed it, as the iOS version allows!!!!

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First look at Lightroom CC/6

Time has been really short. Really short. Family growth in size and complexity and work evolution (getting also more complex) is not easy.

I have had no time since the release of Lightroom CC/6 to actually test it.

Lightroom CC/6

Lightroom CC/6

I installed it. Converted all my catalogues (backed them up first …). Managed to make my GPU work with it (had to update drivers). Took a quick look at it and nothing else.

There are 4 major features in it, if I got it properly.

1- GPU processing for development module
2- Face recognition.
3- Panorama stitching
4- HDR merge

GPU processing is supposed to speed up the development module, making sliders more “responsive” and specially the adjustment brush work in … let’s say … real time (something I complained a while ago about Lightroom 5). My impression is that it is faster, but could be just me wanting it to be faster. The next step is to convince myself that it’s not fast enough and get a new GPU ;-) (don’t try me hehehehehe).

Face recognition is a nice feature, but I haven’t feel yet the urge to test it. Maybe later.

HDR merge generates a 16-bit raw (DNG), while Photoshop generates a 32-bit TIFF. They both have those “long” sliders and are great to try to get some extra detail. Good for the non-artistic HDR. The one you need when shooting in broad daylight, when harsh light basically gives you two options: part of the scene is too bright and part is too dark. Adobe claims there was no need for 32-bit output, not reasonable difference, that’s why they opted for 16-bit. I believe them, but haven’t tested it yet. Surely not a replacement for Photomatix.

Now comes the part I was having fun the last couple of days. Panoramics!!! I reprocessed a couple of panos I had, new I had to work tweak them after merging and could remember some of the problems.

I does it better than Photoshop and returns me a DNG. That being said, there are caveats, of course.

For moving objects, it falls in most of the same traps as Photoshop, and that’s inevitable, but less often!! Yes. Some movement cases it solved quite well, some had the same kind of result of Photoshop. It’s not fair to judge this way. You’ll always have the case “but I wanted it here and not there”, or some weird looking stuff, like very long boats (it gets the boat from 2 or 3 images and makes a collage out of it).

For static things, like buildings … GREAT! REALLY GREAT!! Some issues that were RIDICULOUS in Photoshop got resolved beautifully! In a couple of cases Photoshop insisted in use half a building from each shot, though it was complete in one of them. There were, of course, a couple of instances where it did something similar to what Photoshop did, but waaaaay fewer.

The problem is that Lightroom gives you no control at all on the final output. Photoshop would give me a layered file with layer masks you could edit and recover things from one layer to the other and so on. Lightroom gives you a stitched pano (wasn’t that what you asked?). For the cases it could not solve I’ll have to go to Photoshop and fix them, but it will take less time, since there are less of them.

The other side of the coin of Photoshop layered output is that, for some unexplainable reason, Photoshop creates the masks and THEN marches the colors of each shot. Meaning that when you change the mask, you have a color mismatch in the newly revealed areas. Good luck matching those colors afterwards.

It was a very preliminary test, but the results were very positive! Very positive! Unless I find some very dark side of Lightroom’s pano stitching, I don’t see myself doing it in photoshop anymore.

I’ll get back to them when I have the chance to test the other features!!!

Off in some short vacations!

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